Commentary: It has been a year since the COVID-19 pandemic shook our lives here in New Mexico and the country. Too many of our friends, family, and co-workers have died simply because of a lack of paid sick leave. And yet we choose to delay action?
The reality is COVID-19 is still out of control, but we as workers must continue to go out to the frontlines to support ourselves and our families. I believe it is our state’s responsibility to help hardworking New Mexican families and it can do so by passing a strong paid sick leave bill so families don’t have to choose between going to work sick or losing out on their paycheck.
My name is Josefina and I work part-time in an early childcare development center in Albuquerque, NM. And when I’m not working at the early childhood center, I work as a consultant selling beauty and wellness products.
Like many families across the state, I work more than one job to survive and to pay all of my bills. Working two jobs has its own challenges, but just like many others out there like myself, I’m working hard to get ahead in life.
In between working my two jobs, I am also studying to be a healthcare worker at the Central New Mexico Community College. I hope to learn more to help better myself and to have a career that I can practice and also allows me to help others.
My biggest concern right now is that when people like me, working hard but still struggling financially, get sick, we don’t have the security of using paid sick time to help sustain us while we are dealing with an illness. The dilemma we often face when we get sick is, “Do I go into work sick because I won’t be able to pay my bills? Or stay home because I value my coworkers and don’t want to get them sick?” I’ve had to face this dilemma more than once, but I know I am not alone. There are so many New Mexican families out doing everything in their power every day to keep food on their table, pay their bills on time, stay healthy, avoid getting sick, and keep working. I want to bring your attention to the words, “keep working” because many of us have no other choice but to keep working. We are showing up to work every day to do our part. It’s time for the state to do theirs.
Passing House Bill 20 - Healthy Workplaces Act - and House Bill 38 - Paid Family & Medical Leave Act - will help workers and families to prioritize their health and be able to take the days necessary to take care of themselves or a loved one during their illness without having to infect other workers due to lack of income. HB20 & HB38 go hand-in-hand with one another when it comes to paid sick leave. HB20 is that immediate solution we need now and HB38 is the long-term solution we need later down the road.
HB20 & HB38 are both scheduled to be heard in the House Judiciary Committee next. I urge you to join me in emailing committee members on House Judiciary with this link to tell them to support HB20 & HB38: bit.ly/3poIW6t
Because barely surviving is no way to live. The time for implementing a statewide paid sick policy is now!